As the current economic slump continues and young people are finding it harder to find employment, there are signs that ageism might be starting to develop between different groups of workers.
New research suggests younger workers are becoming increasingly frustrated at their lack of job opportunities and a growing number are starting to blame the older generation.
The research by home and care provider, Anchor, shows that 14% of 18-24 year olds in Britain believe that older workers should retire to make way for the new generation.
They say there are not enough vacancies and while jobs are being filled by the older generation it is impossible for them to enter the work arena.
It is easy to understand their frustration. Thousands will have racked up several thousand pounds worth of debt at university. Thousands more will have sacrificed a reasonably paid job when leaving school in order to serve an apprenticeship. They are not seeing their efforts being rewarded.
However the signs are that more young people are allowing their frustrations to make them believe in negative stereotypes about older workers. Anchor say that 21% of them think the over 60s are slower and less productive than younger workers. Five per cent even think they should be paid less because of their perceived slower work rate.
The need to tackle ageist attitudes
These attitudes and insinuations are not based on facts or statistics but rather born out of frustration at their own lack of opportunities. Anchor wish to tackle such ageist attitudes. They have sympathy for the younger workers but to suggest that somebody should be pressured into leaving their job because they are over 60 is completely out of line.
Chief Executive, Jane Ashcroft said: “Casual ageism has no place in society and these results bear no reality to the lives of the over-60s in England today who are active, energetic and contribute hugely to many of the most successful businesses and organisations in the country. The dismissive attitudes highlighted by Anchor’s research towards the over-60s are a sad indictment of attitudes in England.”
In a bid to change these attitudes, Anchor is launching a nationwide petition, ‘Grey Pride’. They want the Government to appoint an equalities minister to support the rights of older people. They will take their petition to Downing Street.
Ms Ashcroft said: “Within the Government’s equality agenda there is a dedicated minister for women, the disabled and children, but none for older people, who represent nearly 25% of the population. Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign will redress the balance, reclaim growing old as a positive experience and break down the barriers preventing older people leading happy, fulfilling lives.”